Paul Ross of Mesa shed 88 pounds through a not-for-profit, non-commercial weight loss, educational and support organization called Take Off Pounds Sensibly.
At one point in his life, Mr. Ross weighed 386 pounds. He tried gastric bypass surgery and did lose weight, but says it didn’t last because there was no support and the pounds returned.
Today, he tips the scales at 183 pounds, thanks to TOPS, according to a press release. The TOPS website is www.tops.org.
Support is a keystone of TOPS. It’s one reason its members are successful at permanent weight loss. In TOPS, Mr. Ross is able to eat anything he wants. Dine out at restaurants? Sure. Want to eat chocolate? It’s OK. The key is portion control…and support, according to the release.
The following is a narrative he wrote for the TOPS News magazine, according to the release.
“My name is Paul Ross. My chapter is AZ 0405 Mesa. I came to TOPS because of my wife. She became a member in August 2014 and I watched as she steadily lost weight and was having fun doing it. I had lost weight and had put back 40 pounds and counting. My wife told me about the benefits and the support of the group. I knew I was tired of feeling tired and short of breath.
“It was easy staying on track during my weight loss journey because my wife was a TOPS member, too. We got rid of all the junk food and only had healthy choices around. My chapter family was very supportive on my journey. There was always a kind word and real concern if I was down.
“I think compulsive eating (stress, ego, frustration) was the hardest habit I had to break. Removing the junk food from the house helped with that. Being conscious of the choices I was making reinforced my resolve to lose weight.
“I think the thing I still struggle with the most is portion control. It is easy to let portion size increase. The way I cope is to work the program and weigh myself every day. Remembering how hard it was to lose it makes it easier to keep it off.
“I am the assistant weight recorder in my chapter. Seeing every chapter member each week has helped me to keep on track. I would feel that I was letting them down if I went out of leeway. It is easier for me to have a good attitude while supporting those who attend every week.
“I tried to use my wife’s exercise bike as my weight loss activity but I soon became bored and it was too easy to stop. I started walking outside instead. I started with two miles and worked my way up from there. My daily routine became walking six miles every day. It’s hard to stop when you are three miles from home. I can now jog for three miles, something I have not been able to do for 30 years. At my highest weight I had to use a cane to get around. I had trouble walking 100 feet, let alone six miles.
“For those struggling to lose weight, my advice would be to believe in yourself. With a positive attitude you can work miracles. We all stumble and fall, but we do not fail unless we quit trying. The only time it is too late to try is when we are dead! You can always start over. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Take a couple of breaths and start anew. Remember, you can do this!
“I served in the Air Force from 1967-87. The last 10 years I was always struggling with my weight. I had to work at it constantly. After retiring I just let myself go since no one cared what I weighed. That is how my weight crept up. Now, by making better choices in my food selections and exercising more, I am able to maintain my goal weight.
“My advice for how to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain is to know yourself, don’t put yourself in situations you cannot control. Remember to control your portion size and you don’t have to eat everything on your plate.
“One of the things I did was count calories, but the most important thing was to keep a food journal. We eat much more than we think. By writing it down, we are aware of what we eat. My mantra is, ‘If you bite it, write it!’ I use an app on my phone as to keep track.
“My wife and my chapter keep me motivated. Without the support of those people it would be entirely too easy to fall back to old habits. Participate in your chapter, give a program, and serve! I feel that I would be letting my chapter down if I failed to get back on track if I stumble.
“Remember, we are not on a diet! We have changed our habits and attitudes. Eat to live, not live to eat!”